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STEP BY STEP: the Naples Pier creeps closer to a triumphant return

One of Fox 4's Community Correspondents for Collier County, Bella Line, talked to Naples Parks and Rec to get another update on the pier rebuild as people anxiously await its reopening.
TAKING THE RIGHT STEPS: Naples Pier slowly makes its return
TAKING THE RIGHT STEPS: Naples Pier slowly makes its return
Posted at 10:37 PM, Apr 03, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-03 22:37:27-04

NAPLES, Fla. — Fox 4's Collier Community Correspondent Bella Line hears it all the time: residents miss a local symbol destroyed by Hurricane Ian: the Naples Pier.

It's been more than 18 months since the community lost their signature landmark. But now, an important update: there's just about a month left to collect construction bids, according to the City of Naples Parks and Recreation Department.

Lou Lauch has spent his last 11 winter seasons living just 6 blocks from the Naples Pier.

"A real hole in our experience, our Naples experience, without having a pier up and operating," Lauch said.

"My friends all come down here and keep asking me, 'is the Pier back?' It seems to be a gathering spot," said Marty Langan, who has lived 11 minutes from the pier for 15 years.

"It seems like a long, lengthy process, but when you when you have a project that is this important at this magnitude, there's a lot of things that you have to go through from the permitting side," said Parks and Rec Director Chad Merritt.

Merritt says bids are due May 7th, and the whole bidding process is taking about two months. Contractors are given that time to submit applications, while the city works to finish up permits.

"You really have to make sure you go through those right steps so that we don't compromise any of the funding from FEMA," said Merritt. "Right now we're at the Army Corps and state level trying to get the permitting completed, so that when we have the bids go out that these contractors or whoever the contractor is awarded, that we can basically hand the permits over and say, 'Here it is.'"

Merritt says with the help of 10,000 survey responses from residents, the end result will be a stronger pier that the people themselves had a hand in designing.

"To me, it's almost the last step from our side to recover from one of the most catastrophic storms that this area this region has ever seen," said Merritt.